Gerard Kaberuka, the Unofficial Caretaker of Ruhunda

EKOCENTER: Article Lead Image

If there's one word to describe Gerard Kaberuka, it is caretaker.

Even as a young boy, Gerard was taking care of things. The oldest of five boys, he was tasked with raising his four younger brothers. He balanced work and school, all while taking care of his family. Years later, after his parents passed away, Gerard officially became the head of the household, caring for his extended family.

EKOCENTER in Ruhunda, Powered by Philips
Gerard Kaberuka and colleagues stand in front of a Philips solar power unit in Ruhunda, Rwanda. Philips is an EKOCENTER partner.

Taking care of people in Gerard’s nature, so it is little surprise that the 25,000 people in Ruhunda, Rwanda see him not only as the head of the local health center, but as the town’s unofficial caretaker.

In 2009, when he first took charge of the local health facilities, the system faced many challenges: poor family planning, a relatively high HIV infection rate, and women delivering babies in unhygienic conditions with little pre- or postnatal care. Gerard had few resources, intermittent power, and little equipment.

So when Coca-Cola approached him two years ago to consult with him about their new EKOCENTER site, Gerard immediately saw an opportunity.

“Here’s what we need,” he said. “Power, water, and equipment.” The EKOCENTER team listened.

EKOCENTER: His Excellency President Paul Kagame
His Excellency President Paul Kagame visits the refurbished Ruhunda health center during the Rwanda EKOCENTER inauguration

Gerard can now proudly stand with his team beside the new solar power unit installed by EKOCENTER partner, Philips (see photo above). “Before, we couldn’t provide full healthcare at all times due to blackouts. We had to deliver babies in the dark, using flashlights,” Gerard said. “Now we can deliver healthcare twenty-four, seven.”

The clinic now receives hospital-grade clean water, thanks to the purification technology installed by Pentair, as part of a sustainable economic model developed in partnership with the local government. The water, used for drinking, cleaning wounds, and sterilizing instruments, meets the highest quality standards.

Brand new electric beds, wheelchairs, and an ultrasound machine now line the clinic walls. They are all part of an initial shipment valed at more than $300,000, donated by the Coca-ColaFoundation and MedShare, a nonprofit dedicated to recovering and redistributing surplus medical equipment and supplies.

This text originally ran on the Coca-Cola Journey website and has been republished with permission. See the full version of the story here.


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